This turn is primarily due to the dramatic worsening of the corona situation, but it fits into the picture of the chairman of the public service union, Norbert Schnedl. Instead of a public federal congress on several days, which in the past was celebrated with the leaders of the republic, there will be a virtual trade union conference tomorrow, Tuesday, at which the 61-year-old gendarmerie officer will face re-election.
Schnedl is pretty much the opposite of his predecessor Fritz Neugebauer, whom he succeeded in October 2016 at the head of the tightly organized civil servants’ union with 96.6 percent approval. As the eloquent former teacher Neugebauer, an operetta fan and at the same time the savage on his motorcycle machine; here his “foster son”, the non-poltergeist Schnedl, the persevering, who worked for the Lower Austria criminal department and completed a second degree with a doctorate, and who has hardly held a press conference in the past five years.
The chairman of the public service union deliberately adopted a different style. Because of this, some also regret that the powerful teachers union leader Paul Kimberger did not become the civil servants union leader.
Couple skating with community workers
Schnedl moves into the focus of the general public only once a year, when it comes to increasing the salaries of civil servants and contract employees in November. On Monday it was that time again from 1:15 p.m. After a first round of salaries in a very small group, the civil servant union chief met, as always, together with his fellow chairman of the younion, commonly known as municipal employees, Christian Meidlinger, with Vice Chancellor Minister of Public Services Werner Kogler (Greens) and Finance Minister Gernot Blümel (ÖVP) for the second round of talks. It is a sounding out of the terrain, the economic researchers from Wifo and IHS will give an overview of the economic framework conditions.
In the previous year everything went very quickly. Because of the corona pandemic, it was quickly agreed on an increase of 1.45 percent for 2021. This compensated for inflation. This year the metalworkers’ union and most recently the truck drivers have set an even higher plus five percent for the clock for the wage round. Above all, the civil servants’ union wants the wage increase to be decided in good time so that it can be felt on the account of the public servants on January 1st.
Behind the scenes and especially for the more than 240,000 members of the public service union, GÖD for short, as visible to the general public, Schnedl has initiated changes. In contrast to the Neugebauer era, which lasted almost 20 years, they rely on information via social media. Unfiltered and direct. The field in public is left to the representatives of the various areas in the federal service, which Kimberger in particular made use of, partly in cooperation with Education Minister Heinz Faßmann.
Catholic social teaching as a foundation
Schnedl builds on the theoretical foundation and the Christian Union (FCG) consciously builds on Catholic social teaching. But also on the eco-social market economy, which ex-ÖVP chairman “Joschi” Riegler propagated from 1989 onwards. However, Schnedl did not appear publicly against Federal Chancellor ÖVP chairman Sebastian Kurz, even as a Christian trade unionist and Vice President of the ÖGB, when he was clearly promoting economically liberal ideas after taking power in 2017. Years earlier, however, he made no secret of sympathy for a kind of value added tax, which is a no-go for the ÖVP.
Schnedl, who was born in Vienna, completed a second degree in journalism, sociology and political science. The former gendarme has served himself up in the union – from the staff representative to the knowledgeable service law officer in the GÖD. In 2007 he became FCG Federal Chairman and in the midst of the turmoil surrounding the former trade union bank Bawag ÖGB Vice President.
Compared to that, even the pay round is a leisurely stroll. The passionate married coffee drinker Schnedl will still consume one or the other cup of coffee when negotiating with the government.